I’m not a betting man, but I’d venture to guess that Mr. Coleman isn’t the most mobile individual in the history of the world.
Certainly not as mobile as one should be for wrestling anyway.
But there is a bodybuilding principle that I think has it’s place when looking to develop functional pulling strength for wrestling (ie the strength needed to finish leg attacks, body locks, various throws, and ride on top).
The principle- ISOLATION.
…No, this doesn’t me go into the gym and hit a bunch of super strict lat pulldowns and preacher curls.
To get started, please take the time to watch these videos of me “kicking ass” in the weight room:
Hey, regardless of the effort (which must be applauded, lol), let’s actually think about this for a second…
When in wrestling do you ever get to initiate your pull with your hips?
Other than in a mat return situation, I can’t think of any (and Cleans, DB Snatches, etc. are much better for training hip power for this situation).
You certainly don’t have the luxury of creating momentum from your hips when you’re trying to pull in a leg attack while your opponent is doing everything to stop you.
What about when you’re riding on top?
Do you drive with your legs/hips and then pull to increase the pressure of your tight waist?
While I’m all in favor of pushing yourself in the weight room, doing so to the point of cheating when you’re performing upper body pulling exercises, may be hindering you more than helping you.
So, here are a couple tweaks you can make to some of the current exercises you may be doing to REALLY increase your pulling strength for wrestling:
Find that you’re kicking/kipping too much?
Simply hold a dumbbell between your feet like this:
Using your leg drive and low back to initiate a DB Row?
Add a Fat Gripz, which will force you to control the movement more. You’ll actually lose your grip on the dumbbell if you create too much momentum.
Driving with your legs or leaning back a lot when performing the Cable Row?
Probably the best thing to do here is just be conscious of using your legs and/or low back to initiate the pull.
Focus on keeping your legs as straight as possible and your back as arched as possible.
Once you feel your form start to break down due to fatigue, either stop the set, or continue until you hit your reps, make a note of it, and lower the weight.
I don’t know if I’d necessarily call this going overboard…but it made for a good title, right?!
Anyway, in this case “going overboard” simply means making your pulling movements too functional.
What I mean by that is doing, say, a cable row in a staggered stance to simulate the position you’d be in when you’re in on a leg attack or…
I used to experiment with these types of pulling exercises because upon first glance, I thought to myself “wow this perfectly simulates the body position when looking to pull in a single leg, finish a takedown, etc.” it must be good!
However, after playing around with a couple variations, I found them to be more of a test of core stability as well as a pain in the ass to get into proper position (in the case of the staggered stance rowing variations) if I tried to use any decent amount of weight.
So while I was stabilizing my core and balancing in the “perfect takedown position,” I didn’t really feel like I was doing a good job of overloading/taxing my pulling muscles.
Don’t let this stop you from trying them yourself; you may find they are just what you’re looking for.
However, based on my experiences with these types of exercises, I’d caution you against using them regularly as I think you’ll find your pulling strength will start to suffer.
Believe me, I love going into the gym and throwing weight around.
And I know what it’s like to get caught up with wanting to lift as much or more than the person next to you.
But remember- the time you spend in the weight room isn’t about solidifying yourself as the “big guy” at the gym.
It’s about getting stronger so that you perform better in matches, and ultimately win more.
So the next time you feel the urge to start breaking form on your pulling exercises to make yourself seem stronger than the guy next to you, remember why you’re there …and realize you could hit him with a blast double any day of the week.
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